HOLIDAY — Centennial Park Branch Library is preparing for a major “reimagining” slated to be completed by the time next summer rolls around.
The library held a community listening session April 30 to describe the changes to expect for outside landscaping as well as the renovations and expansion to the existing library facility.
The Centennial Park Branch and other county libraries, over the next few years, will undergo facelifts funded by a general obligation bond issue Pasco voters approved in a referendum in 2018.
Mary Beth Isaacson, regional branch manager, said those associated with the library are “very excited” about the Centennial Park project.
Isaacson said the design for the facility includes a new entranceway that will lead into the community area.
She said there is the potential of replacing the normal bulletin board, used for posting library and community events, with a smart TV monitor.
“We are still looking at the technology solutions that will be in place,” Isaacson said.
The library will also add an area with vending machines where library users can purchase coffee, soft drinks and snacks. Those can be enjoyed in the area where new café tables will be placed.
“Our Friends of the Library will have a bookstore as well,” Isaacson said, noting the nonprofit support organization will have the space to display materials “or anything else to benefit the library.”
An enlarged children’s area will be glassed in with sound-buffering glass and will be directly accessible to a restroom, which Isaacson said will be especially useful for families with young children.
Plans also call for increasing the number of study rooms from one to three.
“This is something we are really looking forward to,” Isaacson said. “One will be large enough to accommodate a group of eight to 10. The others will each have a capacity of four to six people.”
A glass-walled teen room will also be provided.
“This is where they can play their games, hang out with there friends, do crafts and maybe do their homework if we’re lucky,” Isaacson said with a chuckle.
A new space for those youngsters ages 8 to 12 is also being developed.
“We want to have an area where they can interact with their friends in their age group,” Isaacson said.
She said the library will feel “larger and more open” and will be using different types of shelves and maintain the popular computer access.
“One of the other innovations we will have is giving you the ability to check out a laptop,” she said. “If you want to talk to your friends on Facebook or watch a movie, you won’t have to be restricted to the computer area. We want to provide more options.”
“We will still have books, but just using the space more efficiently,” Isaacson said.
Centennial Park is the only library in the Pasco system which will undergo an expansion.
That expansion will take the form of a makers space.
The makers space at the Hudson Regional Library is a recording studio, while the one in Land O’ Lakes features woodworking. The one planned for Starkey Ranch will center on theatre and the arts.
Isaacson said the Centennial Park space will also have a glass partition and there will be display space for “all of the wonderful creations and cultural objects we have.”
The discussions with community members appeared to center this new makers space on the teaching of arts and crafts.
Centennial Park will also get a new parking lot and a new, second entrance.
Now, the only entrance is off Moog Road,
The new space will connect the area from Moog Road to Elkhorn Boulevard, where a second entrance will be developed between the Baker House and the Anderson House, two historic structures adjacent to the library. The Baker House is the oldest surviving example of Cracker-style architecture in Pasco County.
It was the Anderson House, however, that was the focus of much of the discussion at the meeting. For many years the Anderson House was the home of the Art Center, operated by the Pasco Fine Arts Council. The Fine Arts Council, however, was forced to relocate to a former civic association building on Fairford Drive, in the New Port Richey area, because of structural problems plaguing the Anderson House.
Isaacson explained that no money for renovations to the Anderson House are included in the bond issue that is providing for the library renovations.
Several citizens expressed a desire to keep the house, which is on the National Registry of Historic Places, possibly as a tie-in to the library.
County officials are reporting any repairs to the house, which is now suffering from a crumbling foundation, could top $600,000.
Although the house sits on library property, its upkeep and maintenance falls under the Pasco County Facilities Management Department.
Isaacson noted there is a possibility the general obligation bond issue regarding library renovations could be amended, according to the desires of the community.
The only other option on the table for the house, she added, is demolition.
In preparation of construction, Isaacson said the library will close in October of this year for a period of approximately six months.
She said the South Holiday Branch Library, on Mile Stretch Drive, would serve as the base of operations for the Centennial Park Branch during the closure and the library website as well as Facebook page would be constantly updated concerning events, locations, and schedules.